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McDowell concern for prisoners smacks of hypocrisy

25 June, 2004

Commenting today on Michael McDowell's sudden decision to attack America's foreign policy on the eve of President George Bush's visit to Ireland, Sinn Féin TD and International Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that that the Minister's comments smacked of hypocrisy.

Mr. Ó Snodaigh said: "It's a little too late in the day for the Minister to start showing concern for those held in American custody, given that he has expressed no concern about the War in Iraq at all, to date. In fact, in the past he has been extremely vocal on the subject of anti-war protestors, labeling them anti-American among other things.

"It would appear that Mr. McDowell has pulled his usual stunt of picking the optimum time for publicity, and as on so many occasions before, he is adjusting his opinions to suit a headline.

"What's even more interesting is that in his capacity as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. McDowell has himself failed the litmus test on human rights. Amnesty International has criticised his department for failing to deal with Irish prison conditions and for failing to deal with police misconduct.

"Instead of dealing with the treatment of prisoners in this country, the Minister has proposed half-baked plans involving the closure of some of the best-run units in the state, and has done nothing about the degrading conditions in Limerick Prison and Portlaoise. Mr. McDowell can't have it both ways. He can't pretend to be a champion of prisoners abroad and at the same time preside over a system that is failing prisoners in his own country.

"Instead of racking his brains for ways to get onto the front page, Mr. McDowell should devote his energy to tackling his own portfolio." ENDS

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